(Jefferson City, MO)…Empower Missouri is applauding the decision by the Parson Administration to bring back Missouri’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program to increase affordable housing for people who are struggling to keep shelter within the state.
The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) voted unanimously to restart the program last Friday. Empower Missouri believes this credit coupled with a federal tax credit will encourage more developers to build housing for people with low-incomes.
“The chilling effect produced by the end of the statewide match has resulted in the lost production of potentially thousands of units across our state, as families continue to struggle to afford rent and other necessities. We are hopeful that the renewal of the program as well as the transparent scoring process will result in more units going to help those households in Missouri who need it the most,” said Sarah Owsley, Policy and Organizing Manager for Empower Missouri.
On February 20th, 2020, Empower Missouri, along with more than 100 other individuals and organizations, signed and delivered a letter to Governor Parson and House and Senate leadership asking the commission to reform and re-institute the LIHTC statewide match.
Missouri continues to have a dire shortage of affordable and available rental housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that more than 113,000 households with extremely low incomes (those earning 30% Area Median Income or lower) in Missouri are unable to secure housing that is affordable to them. Our state must continue to invest in solutions to alleviate this affordable housing crisis.
We hope MHDC will continue to adopt positive changes to the program and be more transparent about the developers who get the tax credits. We recommend the commission give preference to developers who partner with not-for-profit service providers, with the non-profit organization as majority owner. Other suggestions include Missouri following the lead of other states that incentivize (by scoring higher points) a 30-year compliance period and target units to people with low incomes.
“The affordable housing crisis in Missouri is one of the chronic problems that Missouri is unlikely to solve until we have the courage to reform our outdated, inadequate, and unfair personal and corporate income tax system,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Director of Policy and Organizing for Empower Missouri. “With an investment in affordable housing, Missouri would stimulate the economy, improve health and educational outcomes, and reduce disparities that correlate to race/ethnicity and incomes.”
Stable housing is key to many other statewide priorities. Quality, safe, affordable housing is the best way to lower healthcare costs and increase positive health outcomes. Stable housing helps children graduate high school, and when that housing is located in communities of their choice, it increases their overall lifetime earning potential. In addition, those returning to local communities from incarceration are less likely to recidivate when stable housing is available.
While we are encouraged by the MHDC’s decision to resume and update LIHTC, we continue to call for more reforms to improve the statewide program. Empower Missouri and our partners recognize the importance of the statewide LIHTC match in the overall climate of affordable housing in Missouri. However, we stress that the housing crisis will not be solved with one single solution. People living with Low and Extremely Low incomes in our state need our lawmakers to understand the urgency, severity, and complexity of the issue and begin to respond accordingly.